Domestic political determinants of the onset of WTO disputes

B. Peter Rosendorff, Alastair Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Trade disputes are driven by domestic politics, and the onset of trade disputes are driven by changes in the leadership within states. We offer two stylized facts for explanation: Leader change leads to dispute onset, and the effect is greater in autocracies than in democracies. We develop a model that explains changes in trade policy and dispute onset induced by shifts in the sectors represented in government when leaders change. Democracies protect a wider set of industries at shallower levels than do autocracies. When leaders change in autocracies, new sectors enter the winning coalition, resulting in new deeper barriers that spark disputes. When leaders change in democracies, the change in the winning coalition is not as stark, and the depth of the shifts in trade barriers is not that large, resulting is a smaller effect on dispute initiation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)243-272
    Number of pages30
    JournalReview of International Organizations
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


    • Dispute onset
    • Leader change
    • Regime type
    • WTO

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics
    • Political Science and International Relations


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